Child Solicitation for Sex Dismissal Reversed

By Jonathan Blecher on January 14, 2020

An undercover FBI analyst posted a photo of an “adult female in a provocative pose” with the text “Anybody into [child pornography]” on the Whisper social media application. In private messages, the analyst described herself as a 36-year-old female with a 12-year-old daughter and told Vinton that she was “into incest and young,” Vinton stated that he liked “incest and younger women” and asked “you want me to f*** your daughter . . . [a]nd you[?]” The analyst said that she and her daughter had done this before with her fictitious husband. Vinton asked what specific sexual acts the daughter would perform. At Vinton’s suggestion, the analyst sent a photo of the fictitious daughter. Vinton sent photos of himself and of male genitalia. Vinton stated “there is a lot of risks” but affirmed his desire to pursue a meeting. When Vinton arrived for that meeting, he was arrested and indicted for using a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce an individual under the age of 18 to engage in unlawful sexual activity, 18 U.S.C. 2422(b). The court dismissed the indictment concluding that, as a matter of law, a reasonable juror could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that Vinton had the requisite intent. The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded for trial. Vinton argued that there was “insufficient evidence” that he had the “requisite intent to solicit a minor.” It was improper for the court to weigh the sufficiency of the evidence before trial; the intent is a question of fact, reserved for the jury.

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